Public Speaking Course:
A simile is defined as a comparison of two things that seem
different in some areas, but have other strong points in common.
The words 'like' and 'as' will normally be used when making these types
of comparisons during your presentation.
You might say, 'Getting this contract signed is as impossible as trying
to smuggle daybreak past a rooster.' Contracts and roosters don't have
much in common (which is funny), but in this case, the presenter is
telling you what they do have in common. Getting the contract signed
and smuggling daybreak past a rooster are both impossible.
You could shorten the last simile by changing 'as impossible as' to
"Getting this contract signed is like trying to smuggle daybreak
past a rooster."
In this case, the audience must make the interpretation that both are
impossible. It's good to make the audience think sometimes because it
forces them to be involved, which you will understand better in my
public speaking course.
A recurring theme with me is that
humor surrounds you everywhere you go, so look around and share it. I
got a great simile out of a child's joke book I acquired for 10 cents at a flea market. I now use
this line in presentations all over the country. I do a seminar called
Business Lite: Low Cost/No Cost Ways to Improve Productivity. In that
seminar I talk about how employees feel at work. I say, 'Sometimes you
go to work and you feel like a turtle with claustrophobia you've got
to be there, but you feel closed in.'
I like to mix and match different types of humor in one concise chunk.
Here's a simile that I just love.
"If you put his brain on a matchstick, it would be like rolling
a BB down a four-lane highway."
For a lesson from my public speaking course, let's break this one-liner
down to see how several different forms of humor were used. Putting
a person's brain on a matchstick and rolling a BB down a four-lane highway
are both ludicrous juxtapositions. (View this web site's 'Juxtaposition'
article, for reference.) No one is going to put someone's brain on a
matchstick, or roll a BB down a four-lane highway. This piece of humor
is a simile because the two ludicrous juxtapositions are compared with
the connective word "like".
The effect of the simile is to exaggerate how small this man's brain
is. So, three different types of humor juxtaposition, simile and exaggeration
were combined to make a great one-liner. These are the types of relationships
you would explore if you were feeling adventurous and decided to write
some of your own humor. Many of the one-liners you run across will be
combinations like this. You don't have to be able to dissect them like
I just did. All you have to be able to do is pick the ones that make
your point (in this case similes), and use them where and when appropriate.